Julius Jones is currently on death row in Oklahoma. Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 and sentenced to death. Jones – who is Black – was convicted in the 1999 shooting death of Paul Howell, a 45-year-old man who was white, according to the Associated Press.
Since his conviction, Jones has attempted multiple times to reverse the case. So far, all appeals and petitions have been unsuccessful.
Jones has been in the news recently, because Kim Kardashian may be adding Jones to her list of criminal justice reform. Kardashian met with Jones and his legal team on Monday, November 23, according to Page Six. “She is assisting his legal team – since she’s studying to become a lawyer through her apprenticeship in [California] – and then met with his family,” a source told Page Six.
Kardashian – who’s studying to become a criminal justice lawyer – has promised Jones and his attorney Dale Baich to help in anyway she can, a source told TMZ. Afterwards, Kardashian met with some of Jones’ family members at a church. Jones’ mother got emotional during the meeting, as she continued to defend that her son was at home with her the night of the murder, according to TMZ. Kardashian has previously spoken out about the case in October 2019, sharing Jones’ clemency application.
1. Julius Jones Was Convicted of First-Degree Murder
On July 28, 1999, Julius Jones claims he was at his parent’s home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, according to a Medium article. Jones was hanging out with his older brother and younger sister, and the three even got into a small argument about the last of a cookie cake.
At the same time, Paul Howell was returning to his parent’s home eight miles away in the suburb of Edmond, Oklahoma, according to the same Medium story. Howell was confronted by a young Black man wearing a red bandana, pointing a gun at ham and demanding to take his car. Howell’s sister and his two daughters ran inside after seeing he had been shot.
Jones was arrested after a witness claimed he saw Jones in a white t-shirt and red bandana, driving a Suburban, per Medium. The witness added that Jones and his high school friend Chris Jordan came to his apartment to try and sell the stolen car. After the witness told his story to the Oklahoma City Police, they brought in Jordan who claimed Jones was guilty.
Jones went to trial, and it was highly publicized at the time. The story drew media attention, because a “young Black male shoots and kills well-loved family man in his own driveway in front of his young daughters and sister and steals his car,” according to a Medium story. Jones was found guilty and convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 and sentenced to death.
2. Jones’ Advocates Claims There Were Many Problems With the Case
Jones’ legal team, family, and friends, have all agreed that Jones did not receive a fair trial. His original trial lawyer has admitted that at the time, he was inexperienced in capital cases and overwhelmed by his caseload, according to The Last Defense documentary. Jones’ family didn’t testify about his alibi, because the defense stopped after the prosecution called their witnesses.
In addition, the jury was nearly all-white. In a June 2019 sworn affidavit, one of the jurors said that she told someone she overheard another juror say, during a break, “something to the effect of, ‘They just need to take this n***** and shoot him, and take him and bury him underneath the jail,” according to Time.
“I was surprised that the juror was allowed to stay on the jury and that the trial continued normally,” she wrote in the affidavit, according to Time. “I felt that there was racism on the jury that convicted Mr. Jones and sentenced him to death. However, I don’t think that he received a fair trial.”
3. There Is a Documentary About Jones’ Case
The Last Defense focused on two death row cases of Darlie Routier and Julius Jones. The series examined both cases and how the American justice system played a factor in their convictions. Routier was sentenced to death for stabbing her two young sons, according to ABC.
The ABC documentary aired three episodes focusing on Jones’ life, crime, trial, and fight for freedom. “Twenty years later and having exhausted his appeals, Jones maintains his innocence,” the description reads on ABC.
Kim Kardashian has also spoken about the conviction before. Kardashian appeared on the podcast Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom along with Jones’ attorney Dale Baich, his mother, and his sister. Julius’ team discussed his case and hopes that Oklahoma will grant him clemency.
4. Jones’ Team Believes His Friend Set Him Up
During the summer of 1999 when the murder occurred, Jones was home for the summer. At the time, he was a rising sophomore at the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship playing on their basketball team, according to Time. Jones had also started to hang out with a high school friend Chris “Westside” Jordan, according to a Medium article.
Jordan had issues with gangs, according to reports obtained by Medium. Jones was partially convicted due to a “partial DNA profile was obtained from the bandana” during a 2018 test, according to Time. “The major component of the DNA profile matched Jones.” The defense team argued that there were also DNA profiles of three or more other unidentified people on the bandana. There was also no saliva on the face, which should show up if the shooter had worn it over his face.
The night after the murder, Jordan slept over at Jones’s house, according to Time. Jones thinks that Jordan hid the bandana and the gun in his bedroom. His DNA could have shown up on the bandana if it had touched other objects in his room.
Jordan testified against Jones and got a 30-year-to-life sentence, according to Time. Jordan was released in 2014 after serving 15 years, “due to prison credits, a matter over which District Attorneys’ Offices have no control,” according to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s “Overwhelming Evidence of Guilt.”
Since his conviction, Jones has claimed that two inmates said they overheard Jordan bragging about framing Jones. A petition with over six million signatures also wrote that Jordan, “matches the only eyewitness description of the shooter based on the length of his hair.”
5. Jones’ Appeals Have All Been Denied
Jones’ lawyers have worked to submit multiple appeals. The team has exhausted all their appeals, so the case most likely won’t return to court, according to Time. Jones’ ability to get off of death row depends on the Pardon and Parole Board, which can recommend commutation to the governor.
Jones filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in early 2019 after arguing that there was a racist juror who affected the outcome, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal in April 2019. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the same appeal the year before.
Earlier that year in January 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected another appear Jones’ team had filed, according to the Associated Press. The appeal argued that in Oklahoma, people of color are more likely to be sentenced to death when the victim is white. The state court rejected the appeal.